Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Tree house

July 24th, 2004

I HEARD the yellowhammer long before I saw it. Macbeth and I were out for the morning walk, and I could hear its insistent wee song. My mother used to tell me to listen carefully and I'd hear that the bird was actually singing –  a little bit of bread and no cheese'. When it's a bright, sunny morning and not a cloud in the sky, and you're feeling well with the world, it's easy to recall the childhood things your mother told you.

Yite or yellow yite I've also heard them called, by my Loanhead auntie. For a long time yellowhammers seemed to be in decline but a number come to our bird table, and I see them regularly on the roadside verges.

Wood pigeons, in my experience, are amongst the sharpest-eyed and canniest of woodland birds. If you stand quite still on the edge of a wood they will usually fly straight into it to roost. But they will detect even the slightest movement and take an evasive jink and fly on.

I was sharpening the blades on the motor mower with an electric grinder, and making the dickens of a noise. A pigeon came waddling down the other side of the drive, hesitated as it got to me, but carried on past about eight feet away. It had a twig in its beak so I assumed it was starting to nest. It walked on a further fifteen feet or so and disappeared into the hedge on my side of the drive.

This was nearly a very clever pigeon, but it gave itself away about five minutes later. A pigeon, I bet it was the same one, burst out of the hedge on the opposite side and flew off. I'm sure there's a nest on that side and the pigeon's foray into the hedge on my side was to deceive me about where it was building. (I hope you've managed to keep up with this story!).

Macbeth and I have spent some time down about the mouth of the River North Esk. I saw a family of swans, both parents and five fluffy cygnets, enjoying the warmth of the evening sun before the cygnets were taken onto the river for their evening dip.

As I watched them I saw a bow-wave boring upstream. It was a salmon, its nose scarcely breaking the surface of the water, that had come into the river with the rising tide and was starting its journey up to the headwaters to spawn.

Grandson James has been staying for a few days. He wanted to see where I had buried old Sheba. We took her collar and nailed it, with a large staple, to a tree close by her grave. There's always plenty of action with Macbeth around but sometimes I miss the company of a bigger dog.

Written on Saturday, July 24th, 2004 at 3:07 pm for Weekly.